Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Separation of Church and State

It is in accord with the dictate of reason and the light of faith that the Church should be separated from the State--and the State from the Church. There are solid arguments in favor of this disjunction, some of which are rather elementary and practical--such as the following: One, while each and every individual is a citizen of a State, not all citizens are members of the Church. Two, while the basic interest of the State is in the realm of the temporal order, the fundamental concern of the Church is in the spiritual domain. Three, and while the State has and follows a political structure, the Church subscribes to and acts in the ecclesiastical order.

It is not hard to imagine what would happen if any of the following phenomena were to take place: First, if the Pope runs the Philippine government and the President were the head of the Church in the Philippines. Second, if Filipino bishops campaign for election to public offices and public officials in turn run for election to Church offices. Third, if priests become politicians and politicians become priests. Just the thought of such possibilities make the stomach turn.

This is why only the Vatican City State, Europe, is governed by the Pope. The State has its own territorial confines. It is the center of Catholic Church. It is the site where faith and morals are defined, where law are enacted for the observance of the Church all over the globe. It has its own coinage and stamps. It has diplomatic relations with other States according to the Geneva Convention. It is the one and only place where there is a union between the Church and the State. And that is enough.

But the mantra of "Separation of Church and State" in no way means that the Church should be silent and stay still about the faith She professes and/or about the morals She spouses. People--even the so-called "Catholics"--may not listen to Her. This is their option, their responsibility, their accountability. After all, not even everyone in His time, listened and followed what Christ Himself proclaimed and affirmed. This was precisely why He was crucified - He was killed!

But just the same, the Church has no option but to correct what is wrong, to denounce what is vicious, to proclaim what is righteous--even in politics, even among politicians. The Church may not simply waive the obligation to talk when supposedly statesmen are the very ones destroying the State, when pretentiously public officials demean human life, offend against human dignity, violate human rights, bring the people to poverty and misery. It would not only be very convenient but also quite profitable if the Church would behave like the famous three monkeys who hear nothing, see nothing, say nothing--and do nothing. This is exactly how many local churches and congregations go about it. They simply address heavenly concerns and thus steps in no one's toes here on earth. They altogether concentrate addressing the glory of God while forgetting the misery of man. From the President of the land to the garbage collector--they remain covered by the 10 Commandments. When they violate any thereof, the Church speaks. The Church acts.